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Aussies expected to be at full strength

By Greg Buckle 09/03/2006 05:45:09 AM Comments (0)

Australia is expected to be at full strength for Friday's pivotal one-day clash with South Africa in Durban after Andrew Symonds trained strongly on Wednesday.

The star all-rounder has missed the opening three games in the five-match series with a thigh muscle complaint.

"I haven't been given the all-clear but it's progressing nicely," the Queenslander said at the Newlands ground.

"It's not sort of pulling like it was and it didn't feel like it was going to go again or anything."

Symonds was this week named in Australia's 14-man squad for the three-Test series starting in Cape Town next week and he said this was a major factor in team physio Errol Alcott's cautious approach to the middle-order batsman's return to the one-day side.

"I had to be careful because if I did it again that would have probably been the end of my tour," Symonds said.

"So I have been slightly frustrated, you might say."

Symonds said he would have another fitness session in the pool on Thursday before a final decision was made on his inclusion in the team.

Australia's 24-run win on Sunday in Port Elizabeth kept the series alive after Graeme Smith's Proteas, ranked No.2 in the world in one-day internationals, dominated the opening two matches.

The return of Ricky Ponting from a stomach injury for the third game gave the Australian side a much stronger look and the skipper top-scored with 62.

"He's probably the best batter in the world at the moment. He sort of creates an aura around that Australian side as well," South African wicketkeeper Mark Boucher said.

"You can see when he is out on the field, when he's in charge, the guys are really up for a game.

"To lose a player like him must have been a big blow for them.

"We certainly know what it feels like. We lost a couple of players when we were in Australia.

"He's a world-class performer and a definite danger-man in their side."

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